Sunday, April 14, 2013

On Biblioblogging, Part Three: Disadvantages

Note: Over the next few days, I will be posting a series of thoughts on biblioblogging and New Media. I have become more active as a blogger over the last year, and thought that some of my regular readers would like to know why I consider myself a biblioblogger, and what it means to operate a biblioblog. For my working definition of a biblioblog that I will be using over the next few posts, see Part One: A Definition. For a list of reasons biblioblogging can be a useful tool to the student and scholar alike, see Part Two: Advantages.

            Following up on his post on the advantages of biblioblogging, Brian LePort has also commented on the disadvantages of the discipline, as well:

  • Public Reputation. Developing a Web persona is a tricky business, and may inadvertently give readers a distorted impression of one’s real-life personality.
  • Tone of Voice/Confronting Trolls. One of the few drawbacks of online written media is the difficulty of carefully confronting commenters who repeatedly and obnoxiously say things to purposefully annoy those engaged in earnest dialogue. These pesky muckrakers are known as “trolls” in the blogging community, and in the same way bears should not be given food at a wildlife reserve, trolls are not to be fed. Sarcasm does not translate well via online communication, and clear outrage—depending on the extent to which it is carried—can be damaging to one’s public reputation (see above).
  • Offending Potential Educators/Employees. While many employers are turning to Facebook to gain a cursory idea of potential employees’ hireability, blogs are serving the same capacity in the academic world. Students who wish to proceed into higher learning institutions may face rejection by professors or admissions boards who have read dubious posts from their blog. However, it should be noted that this point also has a positive corollary—it is theoretically possible for one’s experience and notoriety as a biblioblogger to aid in their acceptance into a doctoral program or teaching position, also.
  • Time Management/Prioritized Writing.  Le Port rightly notes that many perceive blogging to be a waste of time that could be spent doing more rigorous academic work, such as publishing books or journal articles.
In addition to LePort’s observations of possible drawbacks for bibliobloggers, we might also consider the following disadvantages:

  • The necessity of an Internet connection. Though the possibilities for communication offered by blogging are plentiful, they begin and end with a working Internet connection.
  • Anybody has access. On the other hand, with the worldwide ubiquity of places to connect to the Internet (especially in the so-called First World, but also increasingly within developing countries, as well), anyone with an email address can start a blog or become a regular commenter on an existing one. This means that serious students and trollish charlatans alike have access to the same material.
  • Readers have access to a vast cross-section of one’s ideological evolution. This appears to be one of the greatest disadvantages of the New Media. With so much information readily available online, older posts can easily be taken out of context and inappropriately assumed to be the current opinions of the author. Outside of the blogosphere, this phenomenon can be witnessed in the “sound-byte culture” of cable news and Twitter feeds, in which politicians and celebrities can be criticized for something they said or wrote months or even years in the past. This is an unfortunate and grievous fallacy that desperately deserves recognition—people change with time, and their beliefs and arguments evolve right along with them. 

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